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Filmmaker returns to Greenwich

January 15, 2019

GREENWICH — A Brunswick graduate will be making a homecoming visit to attend a special screening of his acclaimed new film “A Private War” as a benefit for the Greenwich International Film Festival.

Matthew Heineman directed and produced the film, which stars Rosamund Pike as journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed while covering the war in Syria in 2012. The film received two Golden Globe nominations and is expected to be a contender when the Oscar nods are announced next week.

“It’s really exciting,” said Heineman, a member of the Class of 2001. “Brunswick School helped make me into the person that I am, and I’m excited to come back to the area to see some friends and family and colleagues and teachers.”

He will be on hand for the screening of the film at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Bow Tie Cinemas on Railroad Avenue and then take part in a question-and-answer session afterward.

“A Private War” is the latest success for Heineman, who won an Emmy and was nominated for an Oscar in 2016 for “Cartel Land,” a documentary about vigilantes going up against powerful and dangerous Mexican drug cartels.

He also directed the acclaimed documentary “City of Ghosts” about citizen journalists covering the atrocities of ISIS. He has twice won a Directors Guild of America award for best director for his documentaries.

Heineman, who grew up in Darien and New Canaan, also received a nomination from the group for “A Private War” in the category of Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First Time Feature Film Director.

After making his mark in the world of documentaries, “A Private War” is Heineman’s first narrative film.

“I never planned on making narrative films per say. I love documentaries,” Heineman said in an interview. “I was just really taken by the story. I felt a real kinship to Marie Colvin. Similar to her, I’ve tried in my work to put a human face on conflicts around the world. I also know the feeling of going from conflict zone and then coming back to New York City. I felt like this was a story I had to tell.”

The film is more relevant than ever after the torture and murder last year of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, which intelligence officials have said is linked to the highest levels of the Saudi Arabian government.

After Colvin was killed in Syria, her family filed a civil lawsuit against the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and said it had ordered her assassination.

“Right now in the world that we’re living in today with journalists and journalism under attack, I felt it was incredibly important to make a film about journalism,” Heineman said. “It’s both an homage to true journalism. and it’s an homage to Marie and people like her who are risking their lives to shed light on dark corners of the world.”

He is now at work on the next season of the critically acclaimed documentary series on Showtime called “The Trade.” The first season focused on the opioid crisis; the second season will examine human trafficking.

But Heineman said he will make both narrative and documentary films in the future, saying there are challenges to making both kinds of films. He says he wanted to make his documentaries feel like narrative films and he sought to make “A Private War” feel like a documentary.

The Greenwich International Film Festival is happy to welcome Heineman back to town. His documentary “City of Ghosts” won the Best Social Impact Film Award at the 2017 festival.

“He exemplifies the type of director that we like to showcase at GIFF,” said Ginger Stickel, the film festival’s executive director. “He uses his artistic platform to shed light on important issues facing the world. We are thrilled to welcome him back to screen his first narrative feature.”

Tickets ($15) can be purchased for Wednesday night’s screening at www.greenwichfilm.org.

The Greenwich International Film Festival is slated to return May 29 for its fifth year. The featured movies and other details will be announced in the spring.

kborsuk@greenwichtime.com

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